John Locke – Belonging and Consent
We often discuss these principles when they apply to kink. But how often are they considered when you think about the groups that you belong to in society?
If you are born into a group, you are a member till you’re asked to leave or you die. Your rights are life, liberty and property. At least your share of the group’s resources. In exchange you get the protection of the group. You follow what the majority want. The group can ask you to help protect it, but can no longer arbitrarily force you to do so, unless they allow conscription. You can volunteer, and in some cases more than others, that can seem quite coercive. The poor want a chance to travel, to be fed and housed, to learn a trade they couldn’t otherwise. And all they have to do is risk their lives. The imprisoned can apply for early release thru service in the military. And some people just want to join. They think they should serve their country, their people, their faith. Or it’s a family tradition. But it is expected. People are disappointed if you don’t. And for some that weighs heavily. Which can also be quite coercive.
If you weren’t born in the group, you have to basically apply or show your worth. Offer some skill the group needs, or share your resources when theirs are depleted. If accepted, you become a member of the group. With pretty well the same rights as anyone else. Though it may take longer for them to trust you. If you’ve ever lived in a small town, you know they don’t always trust outsiders. Xenophobia is a very real thing.
You can leave anytime you wish, in theory. But it’s pretty hard to take anything with you and you might have to sneak away in the dead of night to be successful. The group doesn’t like to lose it’s members. Or it’s resources. At . all.
It’s more likely they would let you return, if you had been born among them than if you were an outsider, left and wanted to return.
If the group excommunicates you because you have broken the rules of membership, there would be conditions to your return. And trust would have to be re-earned. You may never get all your freedom and privileges back.
Property is your share of the group’s resources. And given to you to use by grace of the group. For as long as you are a member. Your safety is only assured as long as you are a member of the group. And your freedom is only assured when you are following the rules of the group.
Have you ever tried to leave a group you were born into or joined and later regretted and wanted to leave? A religious or societal group? I have and it took so much more than it should have for me to get my kid and I out safely. It isn’t like you can say ‘I want to go’ and they say ‘see ya!’ and throw you a party. So how consensual would it still be if you remained, because they refused to let you go? It just wouldn’t be, would it?
You are a member with a share of their resources at the group’s pleasure. If they allow you to have and keep private property, it’s taxed. And it’s usually the members who have higher skill levels who get to keep private property. Which might explain why some constitutions offer happiness instead of private property.
You can see these factors at the bottom of any group charter, constitution, govt, whatever you call it. Democracy, communism, socialism, feudalism. Cult, gang. The only difference is whether the words get sugar coating or not.
And back to kink.
Nothing in kink should be like that, since it’s all supposed to be adults agreeing to do things together. But sometimes it seems like it is when you hear the groups that do it wrong. And somebody can end up dead or in jail.
And nowhere in this post have I discussed things like reputation and gossip. Yet they are important factors in any group. So it’s no surprise when they enter the kink world as well. At least it shouldn’t be. And the coercion of these forces is felt if the group you are in loses faith in you, at whatever level.
How you do in any group depends on how much the group thinks you can offer them and how much they think they can trust you to follow the rules. They will treat you well as long as you are on their good side. You’ll feel the winds change around you if that ever changes. Never doubt that.